Australia are favourites to win the 2nd Test vs West Indies © Getty Images
Australia are favourites to win the 2nd Test vs West Indies © Getty Images

Australia face West Indies in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Saturday. It is the second game of the three-match Test series. The hosts lead West Indies 1-0 after a superb by an innings and 212 run-run victory in the first Test at Hobart. That game exposed the miserable state of the visitors in whites. The absence of big names like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell has fuelled West Indies’ spectacular slump in form in the ongoing contest against the Australians, which frustrated coach Phil Simmons also admitted to following the devastating loss in the first match. FULL SCORECARD: Australia vs West Indies, 2nd Test at Melbourne 

“It’s enjoyable to see Andre Russell bowling at 140 clicks and Dwayne Bravo hitting three of four sixes and Chris in the Big Bash League (BBL). It is frustrating that we don’t have them yet playing in a test series but it’s something that’s been going on for a while,” he said. Gayle’s injury was a concern. He was not fully fit ahead of the Hobart Test and hence West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) decided to skip him. However his presence in the Big Bash League (BBL) indicates his complete recovery and his inclusion in the second Test may make a huge impact for the West Indians.

This match is West Indies’ first Boxing Day Test since December 2000, when Steve Waugh’s men defeated the visitors by 352 runs inside four days and eventually white-washed them 5-0 in the series. Meanwhile, Marlon Samuels is the only player from that team to be playing Saturday’s match.

A win for Australia in the second Test is an expected one, unless the visitors display some competitiveness. Speaking about his team, West Indies skipper Jason Holder said, “We need to understand the position we’re in. We have a very young side, very inexperienced, and we have some guys that we need to build a core of players around. Once we understand that it’s easier to move forward.” READ: Australia drop Shaun Marsh for Usman Khawaja for Boxing Day Test vs West Indies

Australia’s Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh posted a total of 449 runs in their 384-minute partnership for the 4th wicket, falling short of Australia’s highest-ever Test partnership by a mere three runs. The record is still held by batting legends Bill Ponsford and Don Bradman who had shared a stand of 451 during the 1934 Ashes series, at the Oval in London. The sheer dominance from Marsh and Voges who have been struggling lately especially against the sides like England showed the vulnerability in the West Indies’ bowling department.

Marsh is one of those few unfortunate players who were dropped after scoring a career-best score. Cricket Australia (CA) have decided to include Usman Khawaja in the Boxing Day Test at the stake of Marsh. Khawaja who is coming off a hamstring injury will mostly come at No.4 after the skipper Steven Smith. Marsh’s replacement is the only change made by the Australian side, while the visitors are yet to reveal their playing XI for the Melbourne Test.

Australia (playing XI): Joe Burns, David Warner, Steven Smith (c), Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.

West Indies (likely XI): Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Jason Holder (c), Carlos Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican.

Time: 05:00 (IST), 23.30 (GMT) │10.30 (Local)

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)